Howtown Hotel is a Real Thing. Instead of pretending to be a charming private house of some years ago, it actually is a house that has been in the same family for over a century. And little seems to have changed-except the bathrooms, which are modern and efficient. They are not en-suite , but all are private and individual, usually just across a passage. Downstairs, Toby jugs, brass warming pans, the heads of foxes hunted in the 1930s, and oil paintings make the hall seem like a pre-war antique shop. Doors are wood-grained in the old-fashioned way (no Farrow and Ball paint here).

The cosy little bar with stained glass in the windows might be the snug where the Swallows & Amazons' uncle, Captain Flint, met his friends. The Smoking Room opposite has succumbed to modern diktat. Other public rooms are grander, lighter, more like drawing-rooms. The bedrooms are equally comfortable and impressive. Pretending are the Baldrys, ably supported by a very capable management and uber-friendly Poles. Nothing is too much trouble. The place is as clean as a museum. The scenery around is staggering. And they sound a gong before meals. 

Mrs Baldry says she doesn't like publicity, and needs it still less. On the other hand, we feel that not a few readers of this guide will be just the right sort of guest for this unique place.